Inspired by my favorite episode, number 5! Possible spoilers if you haven't seen Ep. 5, but that's it.
Disclaimer: I dun own Ouran High Host Club.
"Do you remember when we started that game?"
He receives a nod. His mind gets back to crack a certain useless mathematical theorem.
Scratches of pen on paper occupies the room, until he asks again.
"Are we happy when we win?"
This time, his twin looks at him and rolls his eyes.
"A game is a game, Kaoru; as long as it gives us something to do," he mutters, bored of the topic, eyes moving back onto his poetry worksheet.
Kaoru just smiles smoothly and places his mechanical pencil on the table with a click.
They always won. If they won too much, it would become boring. If they lost, they immediately tried again with a passion.
The Hitachiin disliked losing. They hated winning without a challenge even worse.
Most of the time, they fought against the laws of tradition and set standards for the modern. They liked being different from the world. Following the crowd held no individual originality.
Before Hikaru and Kaoru, the family didn't bother to specify what kind of different. But hearing those words connected their hands together. After all, the familiar motto wasn't created especially for them.
It was to be "different."
(In a way that's unconventional and extraordinary.)
Kaoru pulled those words out of the dictionary to describe it, if not to comfort the both of them, it was to give them something to run on.
Therefore, for the two identical symmetrical twin brothers, "different" is "separate from the world."
"Kaoru, I hate two player games," Hikaru starts in a whining tone, throwing his game controller onto the floor. He flops backwards onto the couch, heaving a long sigh.
His twin blinks at this reaction, then asking, "Why?" he presses several buttons and a high score screen pops up. A smirk makes its way onto his face slowly.
They were evenly matched.
"It's boring and so predictable," he continues to complain. Kaoru's hazel eyes skates over his expression. It is of the undeniably bored.
The younger twin doesn't do anything for a moment, clearly thinking. Hikaru knows this is the expression of being about to deliver a mystical message. The elder isn't disappointed. He opens his mouth, "Then why didn't we stop?"
A bunch of symbols pops in front of Hikaru, but the "question mark" was the most apparent.
He glances at his brother again, simpers in understanding, and then turned to look at the abandoned device. The elder twin feels his brother's eyes on him.
Hikaru doesn't feel like wasting air that hour on a pointless answer.
(Because they were desperate for the alternative.)
To be an individual. He wonders what it could feel like.
He looks at his brother, chatting energetically to their lord (and sadly, obliviously) about the next round of cosplay costumes; the next theme of the host club. And, forgetting that his twin isn't with him, he continues to argue his fashion sense of dramatic style.
Kaoru heaves a small sigh. He doesn't know; he isn't the one taking the first step. His elder half is.
Hikaru stops in mid-sentence, as if waiting for his twin to catch it. His confused golden eyes blinked once, then twice. Then he shifts his body to see the lone figure of his twin against the window, just watching him.
He smiles and waves him over. Kaoru reluctantly rises from his comfortable seat on the wide sill and walks over.
Hikaru fills him in on the details. He knows that Kaoru likes this part, that Kaoru likes to draw out the costumes. And then, Kaoru knows that Hikaru's hand will always fumble, and he quietly smoothes out his squiggles.
Kaoru's eyes light up, then his thin-pressed lips soften into a small smile.
Hikaru doesn't know he likes doing it only because they are doing it together. Because it lets him remember a time when there was only the two of them in their world.
And a game prevented the world from tearing their fragile minds apart.
Over the years, they built a barrier, preventing anyone and everyone from intruding on them. Over the years, if this barrier failed to work, they always countered with that game.
It was their failsafe lock against the "outside" world. They thought no one was worthy or on their standards to come in.
They hated the feeling that came when people lost, when people failed to tell them apart. It was like losing, yet they were winning at the same time. Hikaru thought it was boring and predictable when they made the same mistake over and over. And, they didn't stop.
So, when they finally lose to a certain brown-haired commoner.
They treat the loss as if it never happened, and tries to prove her wrong.
Only to have her win again.
"No, you're wrong; today, the pink-haired one is Kaoru, and the blue-haired is Hikaru."
She flashes them an innocent smile.
"You two switched colors, didn't you?"
And without a reply, she walks away.
That feeling that usually came when someone had just played their game is replaced by one that was foreign to them.
It is supposed to come as a relief, that someone in the world could tell them apart.
But why do their hands clasps each other's?
Kaoru doesn't know the answer now. Neither does Hikaru have a clue.
He closes his eyes.
Anything that threatened to come between their strong bonds was immediately changed to something to apply to them.
'Do you realize this, Hikaru?' Kaoru thinks, watching his brother out of the corner of his eye, 'Our world used to be 'us' and 'everyone else.' For the first time, we have an intruder.'
But this is reality. They can't change what is inevitable.
They were in preschool, Kaoru remembers. When the game was first played. And first failed.
It was snowing that day. One after eleven; playtime for the young four-year-olds. He remembers a bench, far away from where the snow was trampled on.
Two pairs of empty hazel eyes looked at the sole girl, the only girl willing enough to play with the "mean and weird" twins. And they wanted to play.
But they liked their solitude. They were in a perfect world with two perfect people. They didn't need -didn't want- someone to intrude. Their world was good enough.
"Let's build a snowman together," the girl's high voice invited.
Hikaru's hand trembled just for a moment. Kaoru's eyes narrowed just ever so slightly.
No one deserved to come in. Not after what their favorite oneechan said.
No one deserved to, unless they could prove her wrong.
"Which one of us are you talking to?" Hikaru went for the obvious.
"Both of you."
"There's no "both of you" here," Kaoru retaliated calmly.
"I mean, Hikaru-chan and Kaoru-chan."
Her naivety and innocence dodged their normal defense. Their blank eyes stared her down.
"In that case," they started simultaneously. "Can you tell which one is Hikaru and which one is Kaoru?"
There was silence.
And then, the danger was deflected. And they were still in their own world.
"So," he asks his brother, "Why?"
He knows they are in the middle of a game of tag. Both twins decided to ditch their lord and sneak off into the rose maze, and for once, enjoy a nice bout of peace, as they settled onto a cold stone bench.
Hikaru wants to prank the oblivious lord, muttering something about water balloons and the current freezing weather. He is about to giggle at his deviousness and notices that Kaoru had repeated his question to snap him out of his trouble-making daze.
For a second, Hikaru is about to talk about Kaoru's supposed unwillingness to get into trouble, then notices that Kaoru's troubled hazel eyes says otherwise. He racks his mind for a reasonable answer, when Kaoru suddenly turns away from him and runs off in an opposite direction. Hikaru doesn't hesitate to follow.
"Kaoru! Where do you think you're going?"
"There?" the elder repeats in confusion, his hand catching into Kaoru's.
The younger twin stops, "There. I can't explain, because I don't remember it that well."
"Where is it?" Hikaru asks, worrying over his brother's memory.
"It was snowing," he comments emptily, his deep eyes staring down at the snow-coated hedges.
"It was snowing."
"We were sitting down."
Hikaru rolls his eyes again, "We were until you decided to run off."
Kaoru dismisses his twin's growing irritation, "We were alone."
Hikaru snorts, "If you are going to continue with that, I'll-"
"We weren't playing with everyone else," he ends, finally deciding to bring up his stern hazel to meet another pair of hazel. A startled pair.
"Kaoru, what are you going at?"
"Hikaru. Do you remember when we first started that game?"
A hesitant nod. Hikaru isn't sure which one he is talking about now.
"Why…" he mouthed, repeating it as if it would tell him the specifics.
"It's all right, Hikaru," he feels a hand on his shoulder. Kaoru knows that Hikaru doesn't understand, but he can't help but feel insecurity.
Hikaru isn't convinced, but he lets it go. Kaoru doesn't know this; but Hikaru will be ready for these questions.
Kaoru knows that when they win the game, their prize is pure disappointment. Winning and losing the game didn't matter. If no one was going to get it correct, if they were getting hurt because of the wrong answers, if both of them thought that the game was boring and predictable, why did they continue?
(Because it was a game.)
Kaoru wonders that when they lost to Haruhi that day, when she finally went against the world's laws and told them apart, why did Hikaru reach out with a hand and gently took his brother's, like he usually did whenever he was scared?
(Because it wasn't a game.)
Kaoru remembers the day they started the game, and the girl lost. He never thought it before but when his brother said that- "Which one of us are you talking to?" -he can't help but think that Hikaru was subconsciously trying to tear them apart.
(Because it was just a game. And he doesn't mean anything when it was a game.)
"Oi, Kaoru, we're here."
He tries to tune out Hikaru's louder voice.
"Earth to Kaoru," his twin snaps in his face, consequently breaking off his thoughts. He smiles and waves towards the scenery.
"Where are we?" he dares to ask, the snow draping the school campus. He makes out some playground swings buried in the white nearby.
"This is what you were talking about, ne?" he drags his younger brother in one direction. Kaoru can't keep from tripping over the irregular snow mounds.
Suddenly, he sits down. On a bench that was there all along. Hikaru makes a motion to follow suit, but it was already natural to Kaoru. His eyes sweep the playground in this certain view.
"Hikaru." Said twin turns and gives his brother a peace sign. Kaoru rolls his eyes, "I can't believe we snuck back into the preschool campus."
"No worries; I didn't ask for any permission."
This makes Kaoru smile.
"Now, you have to tell me what is on your mind," Hikaru's voice sounds serious and… devilish at the same time.
"Eh, wha?" he blinks.
"Why, why, why? You keep muttering that, in your sleep, in class, in the host club," the rash twin waves a hand around absentmindedly.
"So…?" his eyes roams the campus, wary that they might get caught.
"What's on your mind?"
"Do you remember the first time we started the game?" Hikaru nods, signaling to continue. Kaoru places a hand tentatively onto the wooden bench, "And the girl who tried to tell us apart?"
Hikaru breathes in and out deeply, as if to control his temper. "Don't tell me you're regretting that we rejected the little girl-"
"I wasn't regretting," Kaoru narrows his eyes, "Hikaru, did you want her to tell us apart?"
"Wait, wha-?" he splutters, turning entirely towards his twin, a leg half-off the bench. He gives his younger twin a look that meant, "What are you talking about?"
Kaoru averts his eyes and looks at the footprints in the snow.
Hikaru stares at his brother for a while, before making an "ah!" sound. He smiles, "Kaoru, you're being an idiot."
He places a hand on an identical one and grasps it tightly.
"You wanted someone to actually tell us apart, too."
Kaoru whispers, "But, I didn't," he looks up, "Hikaru, was it a game to you?"
Hikaru is about to give a crap answer when Kaoru gives him a serious look. He sighs, "It wasn't ever a game, Kaoru. We wanted and didn't want someone to tell us apart."
"Is that it?" Kaoru blinks at the simplicity of Hikaru's reply. He nods.
"Is that it?" Hikaru taunts playfully, his solemnity slipping away. Kaoru grins.
"Ora! Here they are!"
The twins turn their heads towards the voice. Identical smiles break out. Standing up still hand in hand, they wait for the host club members to run towards them.
"Hikaru, Kaoru, it's unfair! When I said you could hide anywhere, I meant somewhere on the high school campus!" the loud blonde complains.
"Our lord, you didn't say anything about that," they sneer.
Tamaki looks like he's about to throttle them; a cooler tone doesn't give him a chance, "You two won since Tamaki found everyone else before you."
"Ah! Takashi, Tama-chan found Hika-chan and Kao-chan!" Hani cheerily shouts, peeking over the larger senior's head. The addressed simply replies with a nod.
"But why were you two here?" Haruhi asks, glancing around at the playground. "And what is this place?"
The Hitachiin twins look at each other, but doesn't answer.
"It's the Ouran Academy Preschool Division. This is where most of us, besides Tamaki, went to before we entered the Grade Division," Kyouya replies, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose.
"But…" the only commoner deadpans, looking at the snow-covered playground.
"Ah!" they glance in the direction of the smallest member of the club. He had gotten down from his cousin's shoulders, and looks at the rest of the club, "Hika-chan and Kao-chan wants to play here!"
They all stare at him. Hani gives an innocent look to the twins, and then at their entwined hands. He chirps happily, "Ne?"
Tamaki lights up, "Good idea, Hani-sempai! There's a lot of snow here! I wonder why they get rid of them up in the high school division."
His friend crosses his arms, "The superintendent leaves it here because he wants them to have fun."
"Takashi, there's a lot of snow over there!" Hani promptly drags the normally stoic male towards a large mound of snow, leaving the five other members there.
"Haruhi, we should use this time to bond as father and daughter. Why don't we make snow angels-"
"I'm not rolling around in the snow."
"Then, we can always make a snowman!"
The twins blink; an idea popping into mind. Letting go of each other, they slid into place behind their favorite toy, a hand on her shoulder.
"Ne, Haruhi, why don't we make a snowman out of you?" their free hands reaches for each other's as they move to take the commoner away from their lord. They cackle in laughter as the unwilling girl protests.
"What? I don't want to cover this expensive uniform in snow! Kyouya-sempai's going to charge me."
Tamaki is about to hyperventilate. "You two dopplegangers! Let go of Haruhi! Haruhi doesn't want to play with snow!"
He turns to Kyouya and jabs his index repeatedly at the twins, "Okaasan! Tell them to let their sister go!"
"You have fun doing that," Kyouya replies, leaning back on the bench.
"Come on, Haruhi! It's going to be fun!" Hikaru grabs snow in his hand and Kaoru was about to follow suit, when Hikaru tugs the younger twin to chase after Haruhi.
"Hikaru, you can let go you know!" he says between gasps as the elder continues to drag him around. Hikaru only smiles in response.
"Kaoru, we missed out before. I'm not letting you miss out with this."
Hikaru's hand tightens around his own, like it was asking for permission, even if he didn't have to. Kaoru squeezes in reply, even when he didn't have to.
They stop running and Kaoru picks up a ball of snow. Hikaru stares as he fingers the snow. Kaoru grins just as wide as his brother did, "Want to throw this at our lord?"
Hikaru bursts into an identical smile of mischief. "Why not?"
Kaoru isn't so scared now. After all, he remembers that when Hikaru flinched in fright, Kaoru did too. And when Kaoru narrowed his eyes in contempt, Hikaru did too.
Even with the threat of the intruder, he knows that they will still be together.
(Because it's not a game anymore.)